Your piece is poignant and well written but discomforting to read, because it exposes issues of the “pitiful helplessness” and their resignation to it. The state is not going to help them. Instead the state wants to take their land, bulldoze their shanty towns, arrest them for trading without a permit etc. The poor have to survive often very desperate conditions. Even when they turn to crime it does not work out too well for them. The females do not have enough money to look good as prospective sex-workers and males soon get the message that they are easy to catch when they go on robbing missions. Yet, morality does not work very well on an empty stomach, soft and safer crimes are adopted.
Political Ricism i.e. “the use of rice, other foodstuff and essential commodities by politicians to induce voters to make on the spot decisions to vote for them” (which can be deferred) is a hit or miss strategy a lot of the time, election losers know this very well. As you indicate the poor can take your rice and money and still not vote for you. Why should they? The poor are infinitely smarter than they given credit for in world where intelligence is equated to entrepreneurial or non-entrepreneurial wealth accumulation. The poor now too well that politicians use ricism as a convenience to getting elected and the funds to buy the rice is accumulated by theft.
It is very rich of Nigerian elites who have too much often gotten too easily to claim with effortless conviction that “somehow somehow the poor manage to survive” as if by magic. Such statements and the turn of mind that produces them is running away if not blinded from reality of poverty. It is this blindness that is a major factor in the tragic vicious cycle of poverty which over 100 million cannot break out of no matter how hard they try. Rich nations only eliminate poverty when their elites decide that such should be the case.
On morning my ex-partner and I in 2002 had an argument. She contended that Lagos was awash with innumerable wealthy people and wealthy areas, logically I disputed are claim. I chose to prove my point with a wager. For any affluent person we could identify on our way from Ikorodu Town (where we lived) to Victoria Island (a 30-odd mile journey) I would give her N100 and for any poor person N1. By the time we got to Ojota almost halfway through the journey she cancelled the bet. Originally thinking she would dispossess me of a lot of money, she realised in the course of the journey if she allowed the wager to stand she would be N000,000s in debt to me. It concerned poignantly me that an educated, urbane and trendy person who had lived all her life in the Lagos was oblivious to the existence of widespread severe poverty in the city. It soon dawned on me that most middle class Nigerians abroad or in Nigeria had identical thoughts of a wealthy Lagos filled with wealthy people without any acknowledgement of the existence of pitiable poverty or millions of very poor people. Are people or should I say we that blind to poverty?
In the 2015 elections a lot of money is going to be spent on rice but it is becoming more obvious the ricism may not get politicians into office.